Olympic gold medalist snowboarder Torah Bright in Aspen to host free mini shred
IF YOU GO...
What: Torah Bright Mini Shred skills clinic
Where: Low Down Park at Snowmass Ski Area
When: Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Who: For intermediate level skiers and snowboarders ages 7 to 17
Torah Bright claims she never cared much about winning. Yes, the Australian superstar made an entire career out of winning in the halfpipe, but for her snowboarding was about the joy of the act, not about a medal count.
“I didn’t care if somebody else beat me,” Bright said. “I was never there to beat anybody. It was just I loved snowboarding. I loved progressing. I loved to see what I could do and what was physically possible.”
Bright has channeled this passion for the sport into her “mini shred” events, a free skills clinic for kids. The clinics started in Australia five years ago, and for the first time she’s bringing one to this side of the world with Saturday’s event in Snowmass.
Her main goal is to inspire the children to love snowboarding — skiers are also welcome — as much as she does.
“The mini shred for me is all about the grassroots, giving back in that way, but it’s about connecting them, too, as a little community and maybe making new friends and learning new tricks,” Bright said. “You miss that fun sometimes. So for me the mini shred is making sure they get a start in the right place. It’s about the joy and the fun.”
Bright, 33, is a two-time Olympic medalist, having won gold in 2010 and silver in 2014, both in the halfpipe. She also twice won X Games Aspen gold (2007, 2009) and twice won silver (2006, 2008) to go with a bronze in 2015.
On top of the mini shred, which goes from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Low Down Park in Snowmass for ages 7 to 17, Bright is making various other stops during her time in Aspen, including her visit to the Aspen Youth Center on Thursday.
“I’ve been coming to Aspen probably since the early 2000s for X Games, so it’s been a regular stop on the calendar,” Bright said. “This trip with Aspen, I guess it’s a big time of year for the Australian audience and community in town.”
Australia Day, as it’s celebrated in the United States, is Jan. 26, the final day of X Games Aspen. The Aussies are likely to be on a lot of extra minds this month with the country’s ongoing wildfire issues, which have ravaged much of the continent. Bright, who now lives in Sydney, grew up in the Snowy Mountains near Thredbo Resort, one of many areas currently threatened by the fires.
Aspen Skiing Co. recently launched an Australia Wildfire Relief Fund and is collecting donations through Jan. 26, and has said it will match the first $12,500 it receives. Donations can be made through http://www.aspensnowmass.com.
“Livelihoods are all being lost and absolutely devastated,” Bright said of the Australian wildfires. “To see the Aspen community, and the U.S. community, want to support and raise some funds is pretty beautiful, to be honest.”
THE NEXT CHAPTER
While Bright no longer competes in the halfpipe, she stays plenty busy on a snowboard. Among her latest projects was the IMAX film called “Out of Bounds: Mountain Adventure” that includes big mountain snowboard icon Jeremy Jones and freeskiing star Sammy Carlson.
The recently released film follows the group from Antarctica, through the Andes of South America, the Rockies of North America and eventually into Alaska. Along the way they encounter wildlife and talk with various scientists and environmentalists “to uncover a deeper understanding of our mountain ecosystems.”
The film was produced by Wild Pacific Media and Definition Films, in association with K2 Studios and Havoc TV.
“It’s fun and exciting,” Bright said. “Jeremy brings the extreme, Sammy brings the rad, and I’m me, shredding with the boys.”
Bright’s life is about to change even more, as she and husband Angus Thomson are expecting their first child in July. As far as the halfpipe goes, she does miss dropping in from time to time, but she’s happy having left the competitions behind.
“I much prefer to cheer people on than to compete myself,” Bright said. “It’s way less stressful. So it’s been fun to know the people who are still competing and love them and cheer them on and watch them do their best.”
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U.S. Ski & Snowboard on Monday announced three freeski and snowboard Olympic qualifying events ahead of the February Winter Games in Beijing, with stops scheduled at Steamboat, Copper Mountain and Mammoth Mountain.